Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1839-1869 - Mulgrave House (Fulham)

Soprano Giulia Grisi was born on 22 May 1811 in Milan, the daughter of an Italian officer in Napoleon’s army. Her maternal aunt was the opera singer Giuseppina Grassini and mistress of the Duke of Wellington during his time as British ambassador in France. She performed in London in 1804/5. Giulia was also trained for the opera and made her stage debut as Emma in Rossini’s Zelmira in 1828 in Bologna. In the following years she performed all over Europe and the Americas. In 1836 she married the French nobleman Count Gérard de Melcy. The marriage was unhappy, but he refused her a divorce. Out of an affair with Lord Castlereagh a child was born in November 1839 in London. The child was acknowledged by him with the name Frederick Ormsby. That same year Giovanni Mario made his debut in London in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia. The two met and from 1841 onwards lived together, enoying great stage success. They married in London in 1844 after her divorce proceedings were out of the way. Her child was later recognised as an adoptive son by Mario and known as Frederick Ormsby de Candia, socially styled as Fredo de Candia. A photo survives taken by Negretti & Zambra on which Giovanni and Giulia enact a scene from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. The picture was taken in the garden of Mulgrave House, Fulham, their London home from 1852. She died in November 1869 after a train accident in Germany. Mario took her body to Paris where she lies buried at Père Lachaise.

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